Sunday, 31 January 2010

Taxes, avatars, Sky cyber-commentary and a girlfriend-based ranking system

I just did a Google News search for the word "cricket" and it yielded 30,652 hits dated January 2010. Unless someone's been doing a lot of chirping about insects of the Gryllidae family, that means roughly a thousand articles about my favourite sport have been posted online each day this month. Between the broadsheets and the BBC, the blogosphere and the behemoth that is Cricinfo, there is an awful lot written about cricket on the web. Much of it is banal, plenty is highly biased, and rather a lot is both.

But some of it is brilliant. Here are four pieces I really enjoyed reading this month. The first two are fairly serious; the next two are more light-hearted but no less insightful.

Gideon Haigh, Cricinfo Magazine - A taxing question for the BCCI

"Does cricket make money in order to exist, or does it exist in order to make money?" asks Gideon Haigh. Rita Kumari Dokania, an Additional Director of Exemption in India's Income Tax department, has taken issue with the classification of the Board of Control for Cricket in India as a charitable organisation. Said Dokania,
"The conduct of certain activities and receipt of income from these activities clearly show that these activities are totally commercial and there is no element of charity in the conduct of BCCI. The characteristics of volume, frequency, continuity and regularity of the activities accompanied by profit motive on the part of the assessee have been held to indicate an intention to continue the activity as business."
As Haigh points out, sometimes "it takes a reality check from a disinterested observer, in this case India's tax authorities, to convey the essence of change, as distinct from the fact of it."

Mike Marqusee, The Guardian - Avatars in India

Mike Marqusee, who has a deep affection for both cricket and the Indian subcontinent, has been saddened by what he saw on a recent trip to Delhi. Of the abandonment of an ODI at the newly renovated Feroz Shah Kotla due to a dangerous pitch, he writes,
"The whole farce ... felt like a metaphor for India today. At huge cost, a vast concrete superstructure was erected while the little patch of earth on which the whole enterprise rested was neglected. The soil had been taken for granted, and the soil had its revenge."
Moving on from cricket, Marqusee also points out some of the disturbing parallels between the plot of James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar and Operation Green Hunt, the Indian government’s recent massive military offensive against the Maoist rebels who control much of the country's heavily forested "Red Corridor."

Andrew Hughes, Cricinfo Page 2 - The British summer pastime that is the IPL

If you're familiar with the members of Sky Sports' commentary team and have ever scrolled down to read the comments posted under a YouTube video, then Andrew Hughes' take on the IPL-Google deal might make you chuckle.
"Of course, this cutting out of the studio-based middle man will not go down well in some quarters. One of the features of YouTube is the opportunity for free and largely uncensored expression that exists beneath each uploaded video. Perhaps we might start to see unsolicited cyber outbursts from disgruntled SKY microphone jockeys who had hoped to land the IPL presenting gig:

DGowerOBE: LOL, did u see that shot? ROTFL! If that shot was a wine, it‘d B like a really ordinary Chateauneuf de Pap. MayB a 1997 or a 1986!"
Read the rest of Hughes' skit to find out what Athers185notout, Nass1999, TheBumble and MrBobWillis would have to say.

Jarrod Kimber, Cricket With Balls - the cricket with balls’ ideal girlfriend test ranking system

Every Tom, Dick and Hariprasad has laid into the ICC's offical Test rankings but has anyone come up with a decent alternative? Jarrod Kimber, a man with plenty of balls, has given it a shot.
"Kate Winslet – India
Capable of great things, clever, classy and hot. But how many really cool films has Winslet been in? Has the potential to be the perfect partner, but would it kill her to be a curvy sexy ninja in a Rodriguez flick? Best of the bunch at the moment, but still has improvement in her."
Would you go for the plain girl in the office, the cute girl on the train, or take a chance on the chick on roller skates with bright pink hair in pigtails? Just make sure you don't fall for...
"Your mate’s teen sister – Bangladesh
Dude, she isn’t even legal. Look away. But check back in three or four years, just in case."

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